Skip to comments.Romney quiet on health care because his plan is a dismal failure
Posted on 02/05/2008 10:03:19 AM PST by Antoninus
As he campaigns across the country this week in anticipation of the Super Tuesday primaries, Mitt Romney probably won't say much about the storied health-care plan he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts.
For one thing, it is hard to portray yourself as the ideological heir to Ronald Reagan when your health-care plan is virtually indistinguishable from the one proposed by Hillary Clinton. But another reason Romney may not want to talk about his plan is that it has been a dismal failure.
The Massachusetts plan was supposed to achieve universal health coverage while controlling costs. As Romney wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced."
Before RomneyCare was enacted, the number of uninsured Massachusetts residents was estimated at 618,000. Under the new program, about 300,000 previously uninsured residents have signed up for insurance. But of these, 169,000 are receiving subsidized coverage, proving once again that people are all too happy to accept something someone else is paying for. Another 70,000 people have also been enrolled in Medicaid, meaning a total of 239,000 people are receiving taxpayer-funded health insurance. Of those who have signed up for insurance since the plan was implemented, slightly more than half have received totally ''free'' coverage. Only 60,000 unsubsidized residents have bought insurance in order to comply with the mandate.
And though the subsidies have increased the number of Massachusetts citizens with insurance, as many as 300,000 Massachusetts residents have failed to buy the required insurance. Thus, half of those who were uninsured before the plan was implemented remain so.
The Massachusetts plan might not have achieved universal coverage, but it has cost taxpayers a great deal of money. It was originally projected to cost $1.8 billion in 2008, but it is now expected to exceed those estimates by $150 million to $400 million. Over the next decade, projections suggest that RomneyCare will cost $2-$4 billion more than was budgeted. Given that Massachusetts is already facing a projected budget deficit this year, the pressure to raise taxes, cut reimbursements to health-care providers, or cap insurance premiums will likely be intense.
The cost of the Massachusetts plan is also likely to continue rising, because it has failed to hold down the cost of health care. When Gov. Romney signed the bill, he claimed "a key objective is to lower the cost of health insurance for all our citizens and allow our citizens to buy the insurance plan that fits their needs." In actuality, insurance premiums in the state are expected to rise 10-12 percent this year - twice the national average.
A major cause is that the new bureaucracy the legislation created - the "Connector" - is not allowing Massachusetts citizens to buy insurance that "fits their needs." For example, the Connector's governing board decrees that by January 2009, no one will be allowed to have insurance with a deductible higher than $2,000 or total out-of-pocket costs of more than $5,000.
In addition, every policy will be required to provide prescription drug coverage, a move that could add 5-15 percent to the cost of insurance plans. A proposal to require dental coverage failed narrowly, but the dentists - and several other provider groups - have not given up the effort to force its inclusion. This comes on top of the 40 mandated benefits the state had previously required, ranging from in vitro fertilization to chiropractic services.
Romney now says that he cannot be held responsible for the actions of the Connector board, because it's "an independent body separate from the governor's office." But many critics of the Massachusetts plan warned him precisely against the dangers of giving regulatory authority to a bureaucracy that would last long beyond his adminis- tration.
Executives often blame others for the failures of their own policies, but that's not a tendency one looks for in a candidate. Romney claims he is a "true conservative" with the business expertise to "get things done." Judging by his experience with health-care reform, far from it.
* MICHAEL TANNER is director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute and the author of Leviathan on the Right. Readers may write to the author at the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001; Web site: www.cato.org.
Its pretty much knowledge now that Romney’s health care plan in MA has been seriously compromised by the liberal governor now running the state.
Which is why electing a liberal like Juan McAztlan means we will get screwier programs than we had under Jorge Boosh
What is Juan McAztlan’s health care plan? Free health care for illegals? Wait we already have that....how about more free health care for illegals?
And McCain is not lying? Or maybe Juan McCain really is Ronald Reagan reincarnate.
Enough fall guy politics; Mitt started the process, knowing full well that it would be corrupted by the state legislature and by succeeding office holders. For a ‘business’ guy, he’s either an idiot or thinks we are.
I can pretend to hold out hope for some brokered convention where a real conservative is given the nomination, but that’s just not going to happen. Even if it went to an open convention, our RINO leaders will choose whomever got the most popular votes or some other inane manner of pushing forward their big government supporters.
Yeah, Mitt’s plan to pay for abortions (after a $50 co pay) was a real conservative one.
I was surprised he talked about it so much, so the idea that he doesn’t talk about it is wrong.
Romney’s mistake was to take so much credit for the final product, given how badly the democrats damaged it. Frankly, I don’t think he understood exactly how badly they screwed it up, but he does now.
Fortunately, he’s clearly said that isn’t his plan for President. His plan as President is a good one, which will allow states to experiment and screw themselves over if they like, and the nation will benefit from testing different theories to see what works before we adopt some disastrous Hillary plan.
I beg to differ:
Romney’s Massachusetts plan is not a “complete disaster” because the damage it has done and is doing is limited to one state, a state whose citizens have shown themselves time after time to be very tolerant of the most colossal government screw ups.
“Disaster” would be to have attempted to implement this plan or one like it on a national scale, as Shrillary wants.
The opportunity here, for Gov. Romney, is to come out and say, “OK, we screwed up! It was a bad idea, here’s why, and we won’t make a mistake like that again!”
But can you see him doing it?
No, Romney's healthcare plan was "seriously compromised" by the fact it was a stupid idea to begin with.
The sooner Mitt admits that, and says so publicly, the sooner we can move on to more pressing matters - like getting him nominated instead of Juan McInsane!
Whoever is elected President will have a democrat congress. They will pass a health care bill and you are kidding yourself if you think McVain will not compromise and ultimately enact some form of Romney health care package. McVain is more a lover than a fighter when he is dealing with his democrat chums in the Senate.
Well if it is identical to Hillarycare then he has no weakness as far as campaigning goes. If the media make healthcare an issue, he can say he has experience in implementing what Hillary merely proposes and has no experience with. And if the media want to say his program sucks, well then that doesn’t really help Hillary’s campaign for health care if it’s the same program.
The fact that, just a couple weeks ago, McLame said words to the effect that "I don't really understand economics."?
You want an "economic plan" from a guy like that?
That's what we have now, and I can't help but think we can do better.
No doubt you're right.
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